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As the new Senior Advocate for Women & Children’s Rights, I am thrilled to join the RI team and lead this important program to improve access to basic services and protection for women and girls displaced by conflict and crisis.
Prior to joining RI, I worked with UN agencies, international and local NGOs on gender equality, women’s empowerment, and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response. In that time, I was based in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. Most recently, I worked for the UN Population Fund in South Sudan as a GBV advisor, which involved leading the national GBV sub-cluster and making sure GBV prevention and response were central to the humanitarian effort.
Prior to that, I worked with UN Women in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to mainstream the needs of women and girls throughout the emergency response and early recovery.
I have seen first-hand how war, natural disasters, and forced displacement take a heavy toll on women and children. I saw women in South Sudan fleeing combat and forced to give birth without even the barest essentials for clean delivery (such as a clean razor blade or soap), condemning many to fatal infections. In Haiti, I saw women heads of household struggling to care for family members and friends who lost their homes; providing them with food, shelter, and above all, a sense of safety and security.
The aftermath of conflict and natural disasters puts women at the forefront in their roles as caregivers, economic actors, and the builders of community. The disruption of community that comes with population displacement creates a perfect storm of vulnerability for women and girls: They struggle to get through each day with limited resources, which foments anger, frustration, and desperation; they suffer the collapse or fragility of institutions that once protected them – and, as a consequence, see impunity for attackers rise. In this context, GBV becomes a constant concern.
RI’s Women & Children Program is committed to holding the UN, humanitarian actors, donors, and governments accountable on meeting the unique needs of displaced women and children. Anticipating and addressing their needs in a humanitarian crisis is not just a moral responsibility: it is a way to strengthen families and households, and help them to rebuild their communities. I am eager to get to work.